Family and domestic violence policy discourses and narratives: implications for Emergency Departments and communities in rural Australia

Article


Moore, Sheree, Fox, Rachael, Easpaig, Bróna Nic Giolla and Deravin, Linda. 2023. "Family and domestic violence policy discourses and narratives: implications for Emergency Departments and communities in rural Australia ." International Journal for Equity in Health. 22 (1), p. 65. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12939-023-01873-y
Article Title

Family and domestic violence policy discourses and narratives: implications for Emergency Departments and communities in rural Australia

ERA Journal ID13583
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsMoore, Sheree, Fox, Rachael, Easpaig, Bróna Nic Giolla and Deravin, Linda
Journal TitleInternational Journal for Equity in Health
Journal Citation22 (1), p. 65
Number of Pages23
Year2023
PublisherBioMed Central Ltd.
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
ISSN1475-9276
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1186/s12939-023-01873-y
Web Address (URL)https://equityhealthj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12939-023-01873-y
Abstract

Background
Australian data has indicated that the frequency and severity of family and domestic violence (FDV) tends to increase with remoteness. Rural communities rely on Emergency Departments (ED) within public hospitals for general health and safety needs. Public health departments within Australia are strongly influenced by Government policies which can define ‘health problems’ and limit institutional responses to patients presenting with FDV. The current study therefore aimed to critically examine FDV Australian Government policies to explore how policy meanings could potentially impact on ED staff and individuals within rural communities.

Methods
Foucauldian Discourse Analysis and Policy Narrative Analysis were used to examine 9 policy documents which represented national, state/territory and clinical practice levels. Publication dates ranged from 2006 to 2020.

Results
A total of 8 discourses were identified, with each one providing a unique construction of the target problem and determining the potential agency of health professionals and subjects of FDV. Discourses combined to produce an overall narrative within each policy document. Narrative constructions of the target problem were compared which produced three narrative themes: 1) Deficit Subject Narratives; 2) Object Oriented Narratives; and 3) Societal Narratives.

Conclusion
The results reflected a transition in the meaning of FDV within Australian society and over the past decade, with policies trending away from Deficit Subject Narratives and towards Object Oriented or Societal Narratives. Institutional systems, sociohistorical context and broader societal movements may have shaped this transition by stagnating policy meanings or introducing new insights that expanded the possibilities of understanding and action. Narratives produced assumptions which significantly altered the relevance and agency of individuals and groups when applied to a rural ED setting. As FDV was moved out of the clinical space and into the public domain, the agency of health professionals was reduced, while the values and strengths of FDV subjects and rural communities were potentially recognised. Later policies provided contextual specificity and meaning fluidity that could benefit diverse groups within rural areas; however, the expectation for ED staff to learn from their communities and challenge institutionalised approaches to FDV requires careful consideration in relation to rural hospital systems and resources.

KeywordsFamily; Domestic; Violence; Policy; Australia; Rural; Remote; Emergency; Hospital; Discourse
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020450499. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing not elsewhere classified
420399. Health services and systems not elsewhere classified
Byline AffiliationsCharles Sturt University
Charles Darwin University
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